Upon arriving on Impact 360’s campus, I am willing to bet that a little less than half of the Fellows students knew that they would be traveling to Utah in a month. Much less what a life-changing experience it would be. Before I move on, let me take a moment to define life-changing. Many people have this idea that a mission trip or a church camping trip should completely and dramatically alter one’s life in a “the-heavens-have-opened” sort of way. Generally speaking, most of us don’t have that sensational of an experience. Often the greatest lessons the Lord gives us to learn are learned quietly. Most of us did not receive any call on our hearts to go to Utah, but many, if not all, grew in their love for those who do not have the gift of salvation and in their love for their own community.
All this took place over the course of a tiring but good week. I say tiring because a week that begins at 2:45 am cannot be much less. We began our time in Utah at a park surrounded by mountains. Quite a few people, myself discluded since I grew up around peaks and hills, had never seen mountains so tall before. Watching their joy at the peaks made me joyful. The middle of the week consisted of a tour of Temple Square, a worship night on top of a hill, a museum visit and discussions with Mormon representatives, a visit to Christian missionaries in the small mountain town of Ephraim, sessions with both experts on Mormonism and an LDS church member, as well as trips to In-n-Out and late-night discussions. In all of this, we learned as a class that Mormonism offers little hope. It is not a gospel of Jesus plus nothing, but rather focuses on the self. As Dallas Willard has been reiterating to us in Renovation of the Heart, the heart is deceitful and must be fully given to Christ for any transformation. Grace that is given after all one can do is not grace at all.
One thing the Lord really pressed upon my heart this trip is the sufficiency of his grace. In talking with an LDS representative at the museum I was overwhelmed by the lack of evidence, and thus the naive confidence she had in the Book of Mormon. Confidence with a lack of evidence is foolish, but insecurity with evidence is as well. Often I doubt the Lord’s love for me, however, He has provided ample reason for me to trust his Word – historical evidence, scientific evidence, philosophical evidence, etc. If He has given us such strong foundations, what room do we have to doubt His goodness? When I look at the kindness of my friends and family, the sweetness of my new friends, and the beauty of the mountains, questions begin to fade. If God is the God of the Bible (and we have more than enough reason to believe he is) and if there is such beauty in the world, the Creator must desire us to see his beauty. The Fellows trip to Utah was a beautiful one and even in the hard moments we can all look back and say that the Lord is truly good and loving.
by Shelby Mills